Wildlife Around my Pond

I am so grateful for my little pond; this small area of water attracts many insects to our garden.  As well as planting up my pond with aquatic plants that live in water, I’ve planted the narrow border around my pond with garden plants that will attract bees, butterflies, moths, hoverflies, and other insects.  If you’re interested in growing plants for bees and butterflies, you won’t need a pond or a boggy area of ground to grow these garden plants – they grow in regular garden soil – my plants are growing in free draining, sandy soil; so I’ve chosen mostly drought tolerant plants.

2020 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts.  I know from my own experience, that it’s not always easy to find a good quality peat-free growing media.  I understand that gardeners who have used peat-based composts all their lives might be hesitant to switch to a peat-free compost and gardeners who have purchased a poor performing peat-free compost could naturally be reluctant to try peat-free growing media again. 

Rainforest Terrarium Update (part two)

Since my last Rainforest Terrarium update, I’ve been busy conducting a huge rearrangement of many of my terrariums and terrarium plants.  As part of these changes, some of the orchids that used to reside inside my Rainforest Terrarium have now been moved to other enclosures, including my new Tall Orchidarium.

I am full of ideas of terrariums I’d like to create. 

Peat free Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing peat free composts in all of the Compost Trials that I’ve run over the past seven years.  Rather than just continually highlighting every year that Dalefoot Composts are the best peat free composts to use, I designed this Compost Trial to demonstrate methods you could use to get the best results from one of their products, namely Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost.

If you’re looking for ways to make a positive difference to the environment, why not build a pond?  Ponds support a vast range of wildlife, from the bottom to the top of the food chain.  Insects, invertebrates, amphibians, and birds, all need ponds.  These ecologically important habitats give us the chance to see dazzling dragonflies and get closer to nature.  Ponds grant us exciting opportunities to grow waterlilies and aquatic plants! 

Orchids flowering inside my Orchidarium today!

I designed this Orchidarium in 2017; it was constructed in the early spring of 2017.  If you’re interested in the materials I’ve used, you can see the step-by-step process of my Orchidarium build here.  I thought I’d share some of these pretty orchid blooms with you.  These orchids are all in bloom inside my Orchidarium, today.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium

Welcome to the thirteenth part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.  I first planted this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium in March 2017.  So, at the time of writing, in August 2019, this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium is now two and a half years old.  In this update, it’s a pleasure to show you a few of the twinkling, crystalline flowers of Aerangis hyaloides, alongside the beauty of the snow-white, pendent blooms of Aerangis citrata, as they fade. 

Rainforest Terrarium Update

In March 2018, I commissioned Rich, from Rainforestvivs (now The Rich Rainforest), to build this fabulous, custom built Rainforest Terrarium for me.  I designed my Rainforest Terrarium to fulfil my requirements: I needed to provide an enclosure that would house as large a number of orchids as possible from my National Collection of Miniature Aerangis and Angraecum Species and my National Collection of Miniature Phalaenopsis Species, within the limited space I had available. 

Rainforest Terrarium Update

In this my first update, you can discover how the Aerangis, Amesiella, and Angraecum orchids that are housed inside my Rainforest Terrarium have grown and developed over the past eleven months – from April 2018 to March 2019.  Discover which plants have died and which orchids have thrived during this time frame, in my first plant update for this custom built terrarium. 

Tomato Trial

I love growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs.  We’ve all got our favourite heritage tomatoes, but have you tried any new tomato varieties?  Last year, I grew lots of new tomato varieties, as part of my quest to discover the most delicious and productive tomato cultivars available to gardeners!

The objectives of this Tomato Trial were to identify delicious, productive, disease resistant tomato varieties, and to discover whether any of the trialled tomato cultivars perform differently when planted in the ground or grown in a container. 

Welcome to the twelfth part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.  In this update, I am excited to share the delight of the snowy white, newly opened flowers of Aerangis citrata with you!  Since my last update, I’ve introduced a few new orchids to this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium and I’ve recently replaced the moss, to add a verdant green carpet to enhance the plants inside this special terrarium.

Vegepod Raised Garden Beds

I love growing vegetables, it’s a truly wonderful, soul enriching experience to grow your own food!  Sadly an increasing number of us are without the luxury of a garden or allotment and have nowhere to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers; while a great many others struggle to garden in small, often paved spaces, without any access to the soil.

Welcome to the eleventh part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.  In this update, it’s a pleasure to share with you the exotic flowers of Aeranthes arachnites.  But as is so often the case, alongside beauty and delight there is tragedy – whilst examining my Aerangis macrocentra specimen’s flower spike, which was being produced for what would have been this plant’s first ever flowering, I accidentally dropped the plant and broke the flower spike off! 

Scented Daffodil Trial 2018

I am sorry to say that 2018 was a terrible year for many of the daffodils grown in the UK.  The daffodils that were grown for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial experienced snow at the end of March, at a time when many of my trialled daffodil cultivars were grown, some of my daffodils stood poised and ready, just thinking about blossoming and coming into flower. 

A great many daffodil cultivars are listed as being scented, but daffodil flowers’ fragrances vary greatly, with some daffodil fragrances being more powerful than others, and some scents being more desirable and more pleasing.

Through my Daffodil Trials I have encountered a number of daffodils, which were listed as being fragrant, but when I grew the bulbs myself, I was disappointed to find that I was unable to detect any scent from their flowers however close I got to their blooms, and however many times I examined them. 

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

I love our planet, I love plants and nature.  I want to protect our environment.  I want to live more sustainably.  Sustainability is not a new desire for me, it is something that I have always aspired to.  Firstly though I must tell you that I am far from perfect, I make mistakes and I am always learning.  I want to improve, I want to make changes to live more sustainably and to live ethically. 

Why Peat Free Compost?

There are many wild, beautiful, and fascinating areas of our planet that are diminishing due to human destruction.  These precious natural areas require our protection urgently, before it’s too late and they are destroyed or lost altogether.  There are relatively small areas of rainforests, peat bogs and peatlands remaining on our planet, yet these areas are continuing to be destroyed by humans. 

I have found that peat free composts can vary enormously: from bags of compost filled with bark chips, which could be used as a mulch, but can’t be used as intended – as a compost to grow container plants or seedlings, right through to the other extreme – the finest quality composts, which are capable of producing prize and award winning plants, and of course, every compost in between these two polar opposites! 

I love growing sweet peas!  I hope to inspire and encourage you to grow your own sweet pea plants, so that you can experience these wonderful plants for yourself.

Sweet peas, also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus, are beautifully fragrant, hardy annuals.  Throughout my ongoing Sweet Pea Trials, I work to provide my readers with a wealth of information to help you to learn how to grow the healthiest, most floriferous sweet pea plants, that will produce the earliest flowers, with the tallest flowering stems over the longest flowering period!